๐Ÿ“„ The Dubai Blog

The difference between Interpretation and Translation

Date: 13th September 2021

Author: Daniel Hines


If you have ever moved to or from a foreign country, owned an International business or just really wanted to Interact with people from different language backgrounds and cultures then I am sure you would have come across the terms Interpretations and Translations. Although the terms are similar and can be used interchangeably in certain contexts, they are actually two separate words.


What is Language Interpretation?

In general, to perform an Interpretation requires an understanding of an activity or event, this could be a Medical Appointment, a Divorce Procedure or perhaps the explanations of a Rental Agreement. This Interpretation is then provided to another entity in a different language via different methods depending on what the situation requires. A few examples being Consecutive Interpretation, Simultaneous Interpretation, and Sight Translation.


Consecutive Interpretations provide the verbal interpretation after every paragraph, normally every 40 - 60 words and are commonly used in courts when the witness has a limited language level, and in legal Interviews between a client and an attorney.


Simultaneous Interpretation as the name suggests is when an interpreter will translate at the same time as the person speaking with the interpreter speaking with a slight delay behind the original source speech. Again, itโ€™s commonplace to see this used within court whilst a Judge or an attorney is presenting information, but it's also seen at large public speaking events, formal occasions, or gatherings where there is an Individual Speaker.


Sight Translation, contrary to what itโ€™s name may suggest, is actually a form of Interpretation that takes a written document in another language and it gets presented orally by an Interpreter. Itโ€™s incredibly popular within hospitals, courtrooms, business meetings and many other industries especially when Consecutive Interpretation or Simultaneous Interpretation aren't available or appropriate.

What are Translations?

Translation is a term most people are familiar with and use in their day to day life when explaining the exchange of one language like Spanish to another such as English. Of course, this is absolutely correct but in this instance we want to talk about โ€œTranslations as a productโ€ and not โ€œTranslations as a processโ€. Translation as a product, is the replacement of one text's contents with the exact same content in a different language. Let's say we have a Medical Report written in German, we arrive in Australia and have the document translated into English by an NAATI translator so that we can present it to our new Australian doctor. The process that just occurred was indeed translation, however, the product received was a Translation from German to English.


At Idiomatic Translations Dubai we understand that industry terminology can be confusing, but with over a million translations and 20 years of experience we are here to help make your translation experience fast, simple, professional and affordable. With that in mind, we invite you to send us an email, give us a call or reach out via social media.

We look forward to your questions!